I posted this photo on Wednesday, which was Jacob’s 33rd birthday. I immediately got comments from followers and texts from friends about how cute the banner was, how good I am at planning birthdays, and how our day sounded just “perfect”. It reminded me that what we see on Instagram is never the full story.
What I didn’t share in my Instagram post was the days, actually weeks, leading up to Jacob’s birthday that were filled with anxiety and feeling unprepared. I have no idea if I’m the only one who struggles with this, but birthdays and Christmas are always slightly tainted by my self-consciousness. I don’t feel like I’m a good gift-giver. I am the person who stands in Anthropologie, staring at the earring rack for 20 minutes, trying to decide which earrings to get her sister for her birthday, but then leaves empty-handed because she can’t decide on the “perfect pair”. I also second-guess any plan I make, concerned that the person won’t like the activities I’ve planned. Instead of thinking of them, I’m thinking of myself. Instead of enjoying, I’m worrying. I actually found myself feeling a little annoyed with Jacob this year because he didn’t give me “enough gift ideas”. How crazy is that?
The day before his birthday I had only gotten him flamingo socks and margarita glasses and had no plans. I was dreading his birthday and feeling unprepared. I don’t remember exactly what brought about the change of heart, but I realized I was thinking more about myself rather than him. I immediately texted his friend, “Hey, can you take Jacob to lunch for his birthday? I’ll treat.” Fortunately, he said yes! I knew Jacob would love getting out of the house with no kids, drinking a beer with his buddy, and playing ping pong. I had also secured our babysitter for the afternoon, so even though I had no idea what we would do, I knew he would appreciate some alone time alone with me. With a new perspective, I was feeling better about just celebrating him instead of trying to buy or plan.
So, on Wednesday morning, instead of waking up feeling anxious and annoyed because I didn’t have the perfect gift or the most amazing plans, I just decided to be sweet and excited. Once I shifted my focus from myself and whether I had delivered on the perfect birthday for Jacob, to Jacob and just truly celebrating him, everything changed. All of a sudden, ideas flooded my head. I’ll use Lilah’s kraft paper roll to make a banner! Jacob is still sleeping so what can I surprise him with? “Lilah! Get dressed. We are getting donuts!” I don’t know what we are doing this afternoon so I’ll just write, “Surprise!” and figure it out later. We ended up having a really sweet day together eating yummy food, getting massages, and ending the night with our Bible Study group.
I don’t know if this counts as a little love story, but I guess it does because love is often messy and it often means getting over yourself and just enjoying life and relationships and birthdays (like, duh).